Archaeology in the Land of Black Gold


Tintin in the middle east taken from wikipedia

Oasis of Middle East taken from themoryboard

Middle Eastern archaeology also known as Near Eastern archaeology is a field of study  in the area of the Fertile Cresent, the region between the Nile Valley (modern Egypt) , Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and the Levant the area adjacent to the east coast of the Mediterranean. The southern region which is  Israel and part of Jordan formerly known as Palestine   (Ancient Roman name)  also comes under this field.

Some scholars also  include Iran, the Arabian peninsula and its islands, Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), Cyprus and North Africa west of Egypt as part of this field. Its debated amongst them. Much of this region is rich in oil that some westerners call  it Land of Black Gold. Herge popularized it in one of his Tintin stories which saw Tintin on a report in  the middle east. The story is Land of Black Gold.


Map of Middle East taken from Wikipedia

The middle east  with its vast  history has made media coverage more for its controversial politics than its  archaeology. Most journalism from this region concerns itself more with the politics as in the Syria crisis.  I would love to see more of the archaeology on the news than the endless wars and bloodshed. Back in 2003 one of my lecturers in my undergraduate degree at La Trobe University  Dr. Anne Gardner expressed that the modern day conflict in this region mirrors that of the ancient conflict. Indeed the archaeology has proven the existence of the wars mentioned in the Bible through artifacts, burnt cities,  written documents etc.

Middle East warfare taken from foreign policy

Doomsday prophecy taken from Before its news

The archaeology of this area originated from  the 19th century discipline of Biblical archaeology.  Many 19th century Europeans  were sticking spades in this region to uncover evidence of Biblical stories. Much archaeology in this region is still influenced by this discipline, however the last three decades has witnessed archaeologists moving their work  away from the Bible.




After all this region has so many layers of different civilizations like the Semites, Arabs, Egyptians,  Persians, Greeks, Romans etc. The deserts and sands in the region contain all these layers. No doubt there is so much more waiting to be discovered hidden beneath the sands and deserts.

Biblical archaeology  which is quite a big field in the United States, not so much here deals with the regions mentioned in the Bible like Assyria, Babylon, Sumeria etc. Due to the historic interest in this area there are a large number of organisations dedicated  to its  archaeology like  American Schools of Oriental Research .    

The middle east  is seen by many scholars to be  the cradle of civilisation.  To date  the latest research shows that this region gave us the first forms of farming, agriculture, writing, the wheel (seen by many to be the greatest invention of humankind), centralised  governments, law codes  and empires as well as social stratification, slavery and organized government.It was here as well that the earliest forms of astronomy and mathematics appear.

Picture of farming taken from Nick Grantham

Wheat in bloom taken from sky journal

Centralised government taken from US Consulate

writing image from Axal Writing Services

Evolution of the wheel from ED Tech 365

Since i was 15 years old ive had a fascination with the ancient city of Sumer. Sumer was a city  located  in southern Mesopotamia in what is modern Iraq. Most scholars believe that it is the earliest known civilisation in the world. It arose in the  late six millennium BC and lasted through  the fourth  millennium BC. People lived in mud-brick huts,  practiced fariming and had formed government and cities. These cities had Zigurates (temples to the gods).  They were in the form of pyramids with steps rising towards the sky.

Sumerian Ziggurat from The miniaturespage

Sample of Sumerian writing from Ancient Scripts

statutes depicting Sumerians from ancient visitors blogspot

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